[from Manx Place-names, 1925]


No branch of archæology is more pregnant with human interest than that of toponomy, or the study of place-nomenclature. It helps one to visualise the physical appearance and character of the country in times that are forgotten ; it speaks of the flora and fauna of a bygone age ; it tells of the successive races who have made the country their home; it describes their social system and their culture, their occupations and their pastimes, their institutions and their manner of thought.

The place-names of Man are—in common with those of Ireland and Britain—of the simplest character, whether they be Gaelic or Scandinavian : plain matter-of-fact names were usually bestowed, the imagination was not allowed to run riot, nor were flights of fancy often indulged in. As a rule, a place-name is merely descriptive, and simply records the fact that here is a stream, there a glen, or yonder a hill. When a family settled in the vicinity of one of these, they immediately became ‘the stream,’ ‘the glen,’ or ‘the hill ;‘ and often ‘the broad stream,’ ‘the deep glen,’ or ‘the great hill;’ though there may have been broader streams, deeper glens, or greater hills not a great distance away, these lay beyond the immediate vision of the primitive people and therefore they were not concerned with them. Their homes became ‘the homestead of the stream, the glen, or of the hill.’ If several families settled at the foot of a hill, or near a glen, it was often found necessary to attach the personal name of the holder to his estate as a more certain means of identification ; thus arose such names as ‘Koli’s homestead,’ ‘O Dubhghaill’s farm,’ etc. Often the male members of a family followed a certain profession or were skilled in a particular craft, and these were often hereditary for many generations ; hence arose such names as ‘the farm of the wrights,’ ‘the enclosure of the smiths,’ ‘the croft of the shoemakers,’ ‘the home-stead of the judges,’ etc. Thus came the first primitive place-names into being.

It is probable that Scandinavian settlers in Man named some of the more prominent physical features after places with which they were familiar in their own homeland : such a custom has been practised by immigrants in every strange land wherein they have settled, and has been carried on to the present day. America provides us with a very striking example of this type of place-nomenclature. There is no reason to suppose that Snaefell was more often enmantled with snow during the Norse occupation than it is today, and we can only conjecture that such a name was given by a people coming from a region where there was a peak covered with snow all the year round and which bore the appropriate designation ‘snow mountain.’

Many of our local names are quite intelligible to anyone who has a knowledge of Manx Gaelic and the languages of Scandinavia, and who has studied the phonetic laws by which they have been reduced from ancient to modern forms. For instance, there can be no doubt that the Gaelic name Kentraugh, in the parish of Kirk Christ Rushen, represents an older Cinntracht, ‘shore-end ;‘ or that the Norse name Foxdale in the parish of Kirk Patrick, is Fors-dalr, ‘waterfall dale.’ But however obvious the meaning of a modern form may appear to be, one must exercise a great deal of caution in interpreting them. Thus Ballellin, in the parish of Kirk Maughold, is said, and would appear, to mean ‘island farm’ from its peculiar geographical features, as it is a piece of high land surrounded by glens; its older spelling Balla Allen, ‘Allen’s homestead,’ shews that a common Maughold surname of the 16th century is the second element. Its Gaelicized Norse name was Toftar-Asmund, ‘Asmund’s knoll.’ The Norse name Orrisdale, in the parish of Kirk Malew, seems to be easily derivable from Orrasdalr, ‘Orri’s dale;’ but its oldest form shows it to be Hæringsstaðr, ‘Hæring’s farm.’ Wherever possible one must endeavour to obtain the oldest orthography of a name and the pronunciation as given by the older inhabitants. Thus Orrysdale is still pronounced Heristal by the older people, which is much more akin to the older form found in the Chronicle of Man. Keil in Ballakurnkeil, parish of Ballaugh, is thought by some to refer to the keeill, ‘church,’ on the quarterland, and this seems quite a feasible explanation; but the pronunciation of the old Manx speakers of the Curragh district is köl and not ku, showing that Gaelic caol, Manx keyl, ‘small or narrow,’ was involved, and not Gaelic cill, Manx keeill, ‘a church.’ The name occurs in the Manorial Roll of 1703 as Ballacurne begg, which is further confirmation, as keyl and beg in place-names are almost synonymous terms.

The study of toponomy is primarily a linguistic one, but to bring the study to successful fruition one must also possess a working knowledge of the other branches of archæology. In the past the interpretation of place-names has been left to the historian and the antiquary, who, however well-versed they may be in their own particular branch of science, often possess a very rudimentary and superficial knowledge of the grammar and structure involved in the interpretation of place-names of a country. But toponomy has now come to be recognised as a branch of archæology requiring an especial knowledge of the languages spoken by the various races who have inhabited a country, and some states — notably the Scandinavian countries — have considered the matter of sufficient importance to have the study placed upon a national basis by subsidizing literature printed upon the subject.

A place-name cannot always be explained by a natural feature, an historical incident or a local tradition. One cannot always explain why a place received its name, for since the name was bestowed, many changes have necessarily taken place in the configuration of a country and probably a totally different race inhabits it. Neither is it safe to base the interpretation of a name on an historical incident, as one can never be quite certain of the locality alluded to in the incident, whilst local traditions are probably the greatest snares which beset the investigator’s path, for interpretations from such a source are usually based upon false etymologies.

Most place-names are composed of two, or more, elements, and when these names were bestowed their meanings were perfectly intelligible to the inhabitants of the country. But when another race of settlers arrived, speaking a different language, although they may have continued to use the place-names bestowed by their predecessors, they were merely word-forms devoid of any meaning. The meaning of Castletown is obvious to every English-speaking person, because the elements of which the name is composed are still part of the current English language ; but clothe the name in its Manx Gaelic dress, Balley Chashtal, and the meaning is not quite so clear, because the elements of which it is composed belong to a language which is not understood by the majority of the people.

When the interpretation of a name becomes obscure to a successive race or races, a gradual wearing-down process sets in, and in the course of time the name is altered out of all recognition from its original form. Even as a rough stone on the sea-shore becomes rounded in time by the action of the water, so does a name become worn and contracted by being passed from mouth to mouth by successive races and generations of races. Thus, no one would hazard a guess at the meaning of Ronague, in the parish of Kirk Arbory, were not older orthographical forms of the name available. Who would connect it with its older form Aryssynock, Ir. Airghe sionnach, Mx. Eary shynnagh, ‘shieling of foxes’? Yet we have documentary evidence to prove that the modern name is a mutated form of the older one, and the physical feature upon which the treen was named still bears the name Cronk Shynnagh, ‘the hill of foxes.’ Incidentally this name also shows one the value of toponorny from a natural history point of view, as the fox has been extinct in Man for many generations.

Some names are partly intelligible because one of its elements is still in familiar use. Thus in Ballagawne, ‘Gawne’s farm,’in Kirk Christ Rushen, although one may not be quite clear as to the meaning of the first element balla, the second element Gawne is still in use as a surname. But such a name as Ballacroak 'Croak’s farm’ in Kirk Malew, may be quite unintelligible because both elements of which the name is composed are gone out of use. The Scandinavian place-names are still less understood because the language they represent has not been spoken in Man for many centuries. There are many place-names, however, which defy analysis, even if one is in possession of the oldest orthography available.

In such cases we can only conclude that there were still older written forms which have been lost, or, that the language represented in these names belonged to a people which inhabited Man before the dawn of history.

The roots from which many Manx Gaelic place-names were formed have been lost to the Manx language, and must be sought for in the other branches of Gaelic. Thus eas, ‘a waterfall,’ found in Ballanass,’waterfall farm,’ Kirk Patrick, and Rhenass, waterfall division,’ Kirk German, has been replaced in Manx by lhieggey. The latter is also found, as in ‘the Liggea,’ the name of a small waterfall on the south coast of Kirk Christ Rushen. Feadóg, ‘a plover,’ in Cronk Fedjag, hill of the plovers,’ has now been replaced by ushag-reaisht, ‘moor bird’ ; Más ‘the thigh,’ and, in place-names, a long hill,’ found in Ballavaish, ‘hill farm,’ Kirk German, is now represented in Manx by slheeast and lurgey, which are also found in Manx names, the former in Slheeast y bery, a hybrid name containing Scand. berg, a cliff,’ applied to a cliff on Spanish Head, Kirk Christ Rushen; and the latter in Camlork, ‘crooked ridge,’ in Kirk Braddan. The Irish scairbheach, a shallow ford,’ is found in Starvey, now the name of a farm in Kirk German. An exact parallel is found in Scarvy, Monaghan, Ireland. Palatalisation, such as the change of c in Irish to t in Manx, is a common feature, not only of Manx place-nomenclature, but of the Manx language itself.

One must not place too much reliance on popular etymologies which are usually imaginative and often wildly distorted to suit some fanciful derivation. Thus Baldwin, Mx. Boayldin, in the parish of Kirk Braddan, is said to have received its name from the Danes who, when they arrived on the summit of the hill overlooking the vale, exclaimed "Boayl dooin !" (the place for us). No explanation is given why the Danes— who had presumably just arrived from Denmark — spoke Gaelic instead of their own native tongue, As a matter of fact, either the Danes or the Norsemen did bequeath the name of the place, calling it Boldair, ‘homestead dale,’ showing that there was a Scandinavian settlement even in this remote spot, and illustrating how thorough was their colonisation of Man. Another instance of folk etymology is Cregneash, Kirk Christ Rushen, where both pronunciation and orthography have been altered to meet the popular derivation. It is said to be the Manx Gaelic Creg neash, ‘rock of ages,’ but its 16th century form Croknes, ‘Kraki’s ness,’ proves that it is of Scandinavian extraction, and at once displaces the interesting popular theory. This folk etymology still goes on as merrily as of yore, but with the difference that the English language has taken the place of Manx as a medium of distortion. Thus the Norse name Skibrick, ‘ship ridge,’ in Kirk Malew, appears on the maps as Skybright’ ! and Scacafell, ‘wooded hill,’ in Kirk Christ Lezayre, another Norse name, has now been glorified into Sky Hill’

When one is in doubt as to the meaning of a name, a knowledge of the district will often be found helpful. Thus names containing the element nab are often associated with abb, ‘abbey or monastery land,’ but in most cases, when the topographical features of the locality are examined, it will be found that it is the Irish cnap,’a knob, or knob-like hill,’ which is involved. An example is the Nab, in Marown. This hill now appears on the map in later Gaelic garb as Cronk ny muc-aillyn, ‘the hill of the sows’ ! whereas the final element of the name is really the surname MacAleyn, the holder of the property at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Cnapân, the diminutive form of cnap, is more common in Manx names than the stem.

For administrative purposes the Isle of Man was divided into six sheadings, and there has been much speculation as to the meaning of this word ‘sheading.’ Some have held that it is the Middle English scheding, ‘a division’; but if we accept this derivation the sheading, as a civil division, carries us no further back than the beginning of the 15th century, when Sir John Stanley became King of Man. There is indirect evidence, how-ever, that the sheading as a political unit existed many centuries prior to the Stanley dynasty. Under the chapter on the Sheading of Rushen will be found a quotation from the Chronicle of Man, which, while not actually a verification, seems to point to the extreme probability of the existence of the sheading at least as early as the 12th century. It is therefore much more likely that the word ‘sheading’ is of Gaelic extraction, and represents Old Irish séden (pron. j’~d~n), an oblique form ofsêde, a substantive derived from sé, ‘six.’ There is no doubt that this is one of the few words bequeathed to us by the pre-Norse Gaels.

Ecclesiastically, the Isle of Man was divided into seventeen parishes, and each of these parishes had a patron saint from whom it derived its name. That Jurby and Ballaugh do notseem to be dedicated in this manner is more apparent than real, for the names of these parishes have been contracted on similar lines to Kirk Christ Rushen , which is now simply called Rushen. The older names of Jurby and Ballaugh were Kirk Patrick of Jurby and Kirk Mary of Ballaugh. There are two words in Manx representing the English word ‘parish,’ skyll and skeerey. The first is merely t!ie Gaelic cill, Mx. keeill, with s prefixed, which may be due to Norse influence. Instances of this phonetic peculiarity are common enough in other countries, and in the Isle of Man we still meet with dialect words of this nature. Thus, scramman for Manx cramman; scra~’Ech for cranch ; stramp for tramp, etc. In many cases S seems to be added as a kind of strengthening or emphatic consonant. On the coast of Kirk Lonan there is a rocky cliff called Yn Screg ganagh, which simply means ‘the rocky place’ ; it is derived from creg,’a rock,’ with s prefixed and an + agh, a compound locative, suffixed. Skeerey, which is also used in Scottish Gaelic (sgIr), is from Old Eng. scire, which has ‘shire’ (as in Yorkshire) as its modern representative. This word is either an importation from Scotland or was brought over by the Stanleys, as it was usually understood to refer to the parish as a political unit rather than as an ecclesiastical one, and it is certain that the parish was an ecclesiastical division before the coming of the Stanleys.

The bailey, Ir. baile, ‘a homestead,’ later known as the treen, was the family unit. In our earliest Manorial Roll (1511-15) these were simply called lands.’ In the course of time—probably owing to the reclamation of waste lands and also family expansion—the treen was sub-divided into quarterlands (kerroo or kerroo-verlley), and the term bailey having been replaced by treen, the former in time came to be regarded as a quarterland, and we thus find balla as the commonest prefix attached to Manx place-names. Kerroo is also common as a prefix. There has been much discussion as to the signification of the word treen, but there is one point we can be quite certain about, that it is of late introduction into Man, and replaced the earlier balla, but it is never found as a prefix to place-names. That it is a Gaelic word and means ‘a third part’ there can be no doubt, but that it ever had this sense as a territorial designation in Man is extremely problematical.

When the Norsemen settled in Man, the Gaelic language was replaced by a Scandinavian dialect ; the runic monuments conclusively prove this. The earlier Gaelic population was either wiped out or absorbed, but the Gaelic personal names on the ancient monuments ( v. Kermode’s ‘Manx Crosses’) show that the later immigrants from Norway resorted to peaceful penetration rather than the ruthless massacre practised by their immediate ancestors. No doubt there were small isolated communities of Gaels here and there, but Gael and Scandinavian were eventually fused into one race, known to the Irish as Gall-Gael, or stranger-Gael.’

About the middle of the 13th century the kingdom of ‘Man and the Isles’ came under the domination of the King of the Scots and ceased to exist as a separate unit. It is probable that many Gaelic immigrants from Galloway and Ireland now took up their abode in Man, and as a direct result of this immigration the Gall-Gaelic dialect was eventually superseded by a purer Gaelic idiom, although the Gaelic dialect of Man and the Hebrides still shows many traces of Norse influence, and many words were borrowed from the latter language. The Gall-Gaelic dialect of Man and the Western Islands, however, would not be subject to a rapid extinction, and it is quite possible that this dialect— half Gaelic, half Norse— continued to be spoken well on into the 14th century. We have, perhaps, a parallel case in the Anglo-Manx dialect of to day. The Manx-Gaelic has been subject to English influence for 500 years, and it is still spoken by a few hundred persons. But the Anglo Manx dialect, which contains many Gaelic words and idioms, is still a living reality. Such must have been the passing of the language of the Stranger-Gael ; there was no sharp line of demarcation, no sudden substitution of one tongue for another, but a very slow and gradual change which has not yet entirely ceased, and the influence which the Norsemen wrought in Man and the Isles is still apparent, not only in our language, but in our laws and institutions, our habits and customs, our religion and our superstitions.

Both Manx and Scottish Gaelic have borroweda large variety ofterms from the Norse, especially those relating to the sea ; but only those which enter into place-names will be noted here. Stakkr, ‘a stack,’—as in the Stack of S c a r 1 e t t ; borg, ‘a small hill, a fortified hill,’—as in the Burrow or Burroo off the Calf ; berg, ‘a rock, cliff,’_in Waliherry on the coast of Kirk Braddan; klettr, ‘a rock,—in the Cl e t s, off the east coast of the Calf; bo~, ‘a sunkenrock,’—in Bowe lhean, south of Port Erin ; qjd, ‘a rift,’ (in Manx names, ‘a creek or a cave’)-_in G i a u n y s p y r r y d , near the Sound ; gil, ‘a narrow glen,’ in Gillaldrick, near the Sound. Besides the words of Norse extraction given above. the vocabulary of the Manx language has been enriched in no small degree with words bequeathed to it by the sea-faring men from the Northlands, not to mention the many words, such as byr, ‘a farm,’ fjall, ‘a hill,’ dali-, ‘a gle~tc., which occur as the component parts of Norse place-names.

If the Gaels borrowed generic terms from the Scandinavians, the latter repaid the compliment, although not nearly to the same extent, as their borrowings mainly consisted of personal names. Arg from Irish airglz, ‘a shieling,’ or ‘hill pasture,’ is an early example of such borrowing, and is a common place-name suffix in the north of England and the west coast of Scotland, introduced, no doubt, by the Gall-Gaels of Man and the Isles. Blockeary, in Kirk Christ Lezayre, is a Manx example, from Blakk-arg, ‘black shieling,’ which probably took its name from the peaty stream which flows through this land. The Scandinavians, however, borrowed the Gaelic idiom, and this is reflected in some place-names. Prof. Eilert Ekwahl, PH.D. of Lund, Sweden, in a work written and published by him in 1918, entitled : ‘Scandinavians and Celts in the north-west of England,’ points out and discusses a number of names found in Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire, that contain two elements combined in the Gaelic order. Examples are Becsnari, ‘Snari’s brook;’ Briggethoruin, ‘Thorfin’s bridge;’ Gilcainbon, ‘Kamban’s valley;’ Brigsteer, ‘Styr’s bridge;’ etc. Prof. Ekwall’s explanation of this type is, that the Norwegians who settled in the north-west of England, came from the Isle of Man, Ireland, and the Hebrides, and had been influenced to some extent in regard to their language by Gaels, thus they had adopted the Gaelic way of forming compounds. He also points out some similar cases found in Irish and Manx records. A Manx example he gives is Toftar - Asmund, ‘Asmund’s knoll,’ in Kirk Maughold, (now Ballellin). This, he says, as shown by the Scandinavian plural form, seems to be obviously formed by people speaking a Scandinavian language.

There can be no doubt that names of this complexion were formed during the Gall-Gaelic period, when a Scandinavian dialect was spoken which had a large ad-mixture of Gaelic in its composition and which had absorbed many Gaelic idioms. It was a sore problem to the author of the present work for years why the Scandinavian by was prefixed to some Manx names instead of being suffixed, as is usually the case. Correspondence with Prof. Ekwall, however, cleared up the mystery immediately, for he had discovered the examples in England already referred to. Examples in the Isle of Man of these Gaelicized names are B i 1 1 o w n, Kirk Malew, from By-Lo~inn, ‘Lodinn’s homestead ;‘ Begoade, Kirk Conchan, from By-go~i, ‘priests’ home-stead ;‘ Bibaloe, Kirk Conchan, from By-bala-va~, ‘homestead of the grassy-slope ford,’ (the ford would be somewhere near the White Bridge) ; Beary, in Kirk German, from By-ärg, ‘shieling homestead,’ (where arg is borrowed from the Gaelic airgh, as already referred to) ; Crosyvor, an obsolete Kirk Malew name, from Kross-Ivarr, ‘Ivar’s cross’ ; Tosaby, in Kirk Malew, from Toft-Manabyr, ‘the knoll of Mani’s homestead.’ Older documentary forms of these names are —c. 1250 Bylozen ; 1515 Begode ; 1515 Byballo ; 1643 Bery ; c 1250 Totmanby. There are one or two other doubtful cases.

The greater part of our Gaelic place-names date from the 13th century down to recent times, and their grammatical structure indicate the different phases through which the Manx language has gone since the Gaelic immigration subsequent to Norse rule.

The phenomena known in Irish as aspiration and ellipsis, and the various complex laws which govern these mutations, must he very perplexing to anyone unacquainted with the Celtic languages ; and anyone who attempts to interpret Gaelic place-names without a thorough grasp of the grammar and phonetic laws relating to Gaelic is committing himself to a fruitless task from which negative results can only accrue. It is impossible to give more than a hasty review here, but various phenomena will be noted as they occur throughout the work.

Aspiration is the changing of a mute consonant to a spirant. Thus : b, m change to v, w ; c, k, q, to ch, wh; :1, d, g, to y, gh ; f becomes quiescent ; p changes to ph; and ch, s, t to h. As copious examples of these mutations are given throughout the work, it is unnecessary to enter into detail here, but just a few names are given by way of illustration.

Balley, becomes Corvalley, ‘farm,’ in several parishes. The singular genitive of cronk, ‘hill,’ is cruink, found in Ballacrink,KirkArbory, for Balley yn chruink, where the article has disappeared but the aspiration caused by it still remains. Glion, gen. sing. Glionney, ‘a glen,’ when aspirated becomes ghlion, ghlionney, but as the gh in this position is silent, it is usually omitted in modern orthography. Thus the Leodan, on the Calf, for yn ghlion; and Ballalona, in Kirk Malew, for Balley ghlionney. Faaie, ‘a flat,’ usually becomes naaie in place-names, because f when aspirated is not sounded at all, therefore it is written yn aaie, and when it occurs in names the n of the article is usually retained. Ballafurt, Kirk Christ Rushen, is Balley yn phurt, ‘the farm of the harbour.’

Ellipsis, also called nasalization, is the changing of a voiceless consonant (mute or spirant) to a voiced one, or a voiced consonant to a nasal one. Thus : b changes to m ; C, k, q, to g ; d to n ; f to v ; g to ng ; and p to b.

The most common cause of ellipsis in Manx nomenclature is the genitive plural, which, although long obsolete in the Manx language itself—except in a few set phrases such as thie ny moght, ‘the home for the poor’is common enough in names. The following examples will amply illustrate this law. Conning, ‘a rabbit,’ Close ny gonning, ‘the enclosure of the rabbits’; bolictu, ‘a carp,’ Creg ny mollan, ‘the rock of the carps’; foilicru, ‘a gull,’ Gob ny voillan, ‘the headland of the gulls’ ; bocyrd, a table,’ Giaunymoayrd, ‘the cave of the tables’ ; keyrrey. ‘a sheep,’ Giaunygeyrragh, ‘the creek of the sheep’ ; cronk, ‘a hill,’ Kerroonygronk, ‘the quarterland of the hills’; crongan, ‘a hillock,’ Maghernygrongan, ‘the field of the hillocks.’

There are many suffixes in the Manx language by which new words may be formed from one root, but only a few of the more important which occur in place-names will be here mentioned. Perhaps one of the most common of these is an or ane, which although originally having a diminutive signification, now adds a collective meaning to the stem. Loghan, from logh, ‘a lake,’ is usually applied to ‘a pool’ ; carnane, from carn,’a cairn,’ often means ‘a hill’ ; creggan, from creg, ‘a rock,’ is applied to a piece of ‘craggy ground’; laggan, from lag, ‘a hollow,’ does not differ materially in meaning from the stem ; and strooan, from stroo, has now the meaning of ‘a stream,’ whilst the stem has now acquired the meaning of ‘a current.’ The diminutive of the Irish cnap, ‘a knoll,’ is found in various parts of the Island as Nappin in Jurby ; Crappan and Knappan in Lezarye in 1643, now Nappin. As a Manx word the Irish cna~a’n became cramman, meaning ‘a lump,’ and in more recent times, 'a button,’ where the original sense of a ‘little knob’ is preserved, as the Irish cnap is cognate with the English ‘knob.’

Another diminutive, not quite so common as an, is ag, found in Crammag, a farm in Lezayre ; from Irish cnapdg (cnapóg) with the simple meaning of ‘a knob, or knoll.’ This name is popularly derived from crammag, ‘a snail’ (v. Moore’s ‘Manx Names,’ 2nd edit., p. 105).

Other terminations found in Manx names are Ir. ach, and its locative form aigh (Mx.agh or ee) in A t n a u g h, ‘gorsey place,’ in Kirk German, from aittin, ‘gorse’ Driney, ‘thorny place,’ in Kirk German, from drine, ‘thorn-bush’; naigh, locative ofnach, in Leaghearny ( now Lickney) in Maughold, meaning ‘a rushy place,’ from Mx. leaghyr, Ir. luachair, ‘rushes.’ Other suffixes will be noted as they occur.

Nouns are sometimes formed by prefixing the Manx definite article yn to nouns. When the article was placed before a noun beginning with a vowel or an aspirate, it was frequently contracted to n, and this latter being often incorporated with its noun, ultimately lost its force as an article and formed a permanent part of the word. Hence such names as Neary for yn eary, ‘the shieling’ ; Naaie, from yn (f)aaie, ‘the flat’ Niarbyl (Kirk Patrick), from yn arbyl, ‘the tail,’ etc. Occasionally the reverse process takes place ; that is, in the case of certain words which properly began with n, this letter was detached in consequence of being mistaken for the article. Thus the Ir. Nodlaig ‘Christmas,’ has become yn Ollick in Manx, and ndisiún, ‘a nation,’ has become ashoon, etc. Edd feeagh vooar ( Kirk Marown), ‘big raven’s nest,’ is a place-name example, where edd represents the Ir. nead.

There are not many Gaelic place-names in Man belonging to pre-Norse times, but still there are a few— some of them obsolete— which show a phonetic and grammatical construction which must have belonged to a period anterior to the Norse occupation. This raises a debatable point ; did the Norsemen rename the natural features of the Island ? Probably the truth is, that the Island was so sparsely populated owing to the unwelcome attentions of earlier Norse immigrants who came rather to plunder than to settle, that the greater part of the Island would be nameless, and the later arrivals would have perforce to adopt a renaming policy. When the Norsemen settled in any part containing a Gaelic population, it is possible that they may have adopted the Gaelic names already in use, but there is little evidence to support this view, for one would expect to find such Gaelic names Scandinavianized to a certain extent, and such names are not found. However, as already pointed out, a few Gaelic names did survive, and probably these owe their preservation to literary rather than to oral agencies. The Norsemen may have translated some Gaelic names, for a few names here and there indicate bilinguality, and also reveal the fact that although a Scandinavian dialect was the official language, Gaelic was also understood.

The fusion of Gael and Norsemen eventually had its influence on the language of the latter people, for they spoke a hybrid dialect interspersed with words of Gaelic extraction, a dialect which had absorbed the Gaelic idiom to a more or less extent, whilst many of their personal names were also Gaelic. Such were the Gall-Gaels of Man and the Isles of the 11th and 12th centuries.

Towards the beginning of the 15th century English influence came into play, and a few Gaelic and Norse names were displaced by English ones ; but this did not happen to any great extent, and the greater part of our place-names are still Gaelic and Norse. Such names as Silverburn, Santonburn, Red Gap, Derby Haven, Milntown, etc., belong to the English period.


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